By Shanel Williams-O’Reilly
As a ’90s teen growing up in what is now referred to as an urban area, the Puffer or Padded Jacket also affectionately known as the ‘Bubble’ Coat back in the dayz, was ultimately considered more of a status symbol than a practical choice of outerwear and just like most things in the 90s; the golden rule was the bigger the better.
Synonymous with Hip-Hop culture, at a time where brand names were everything on the streets, the Puffer was an entire brand of its own and its core values seemed to characterise-the outing of a newly discovered talent (a talent not easily identified by others), a sense of unwavering power (also known as an attitude problem) alongside the insouciance of being a tortured artist (unquestionably almost always moody).
In short the puffer jacket came with a built-in ego and everyone who wore one pretty much thought they were starring in their very own feature length music video.
I can say it because not only did I observe it first-hand I personally felt it…
I felt it at age 13, when I got my first – a short white puffer jacket with silver, metallic blue and purple ‘puffs’ (think disco chessboard). I felt it even more when I upgraded and wouldn’t be seen without my premium burnt orange, duck feathered Sonetti and then the feeling completely evolved when I paid an arm and a leg to have a black, three-quarter length, patent leather, XXL variant imported from the U.S.
It’s clear that not only did my ego evolve but it had completely devoured me and successfully detached me from all sense of reality! In all seriousness… What was I thinking??
As I try to recover from the trauma of that flashback, I am delighted to say that this time around the designers have made this ’90s trend much kinder to us. Cropped at Sacai, long at Chanel, oversized at DKNY and streamlined at Calvin Klein, we have seen elements of this revival before but it’s the astute detail, fresh fabric offerings and the juxtapose styling context that ultimately delivers the new element of surprise. Deconstructed, caped, capped sleeved, reversible, off-the shoulder, peplum-ed, velvet, embroidered, embossed and furred and fortuitously paired with red carpet worthy under garments.
Arguably, the nature off the puffer jacket can be deemed both a blessing and curse as the padded layers fulfil its functional purpose while that same additional bulk can create somewhat of an unflattering silhouette. The key here is to really understand your own shape, think about which style will provide the most added value to your personal look and essentially calculate the cost per wear; so maybe don’t spend €500 on a neon leopard print sleeveless number, as something tells me it might not work well with very much.
So if you are all now as fully engaged in autumn/winter mode as I am and the colder mornings and darker evenings are already starting to take their toll, then don’t despair bag yourself a new puffa jacket and proudly take your duvet day on the road. As always, here a few of my inspirational season faves…
Brown Thomas; Sportsmax; Quilted Coat €700
Wardrobe Wilderness: Cropped Puffer Jacket €32
Etro: The Long Down Jacket €1095
Brown Fashions; Moncler; Padded Quilted Frill Coast: €815
Stella McCartney:Ink Marcelline Coat€187